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Space Agression


Guest dollamel
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Guest dollamel

What did you do for your guys/girls who have space aggression? My guy was laying in his bed last night, awake... I leaned down and was petting him and then leaned in to give him a goodnight kiss and he took a good chomp outta me. What a traumatic night! We've had our Grey for 3 years now and this is the 2nd time this has happened.

 

First time he was laying on my bed, mid day... I rested my head on his stomach and he growled and gave me a good wale with his head and I had to head to the hospital... We stopped letting him lay on our bed and were more gentle, not in his face and knew NOT to lay on his stomach. No problems for a whole year until last night.

 

I know I shouldn't have got in his face, I know, but it's so hard sometimes they're so cuddly (then again so are bears)... I'm just nervous because now we have to tell everyone not to lean down when he's in his bed or even laying down for that matter... If they want to pet him call him over to you.

 

And we're thinking about having kids within the next 5 years... It's nerve racking... I love him so so much and am just looking for some advice.

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Guest DeniseL

I have no advice on space aggression, just wanted to empathize with you...I have to physically restrain myself from getting to close to my boy when he is laying down, he can get startled or scared and has snarled and showed teeth in the past when I hover. The problem is I like to smother my pups, they are sooooo cute and I love them so much. Thank god my girl had none of the same issues so I use her to satisfy my snuggle jones lol...I give my boy all the space he needs :) but it is tough lol

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Guest PiagetsMom

I'm going to be honest with you - I've had Mirage for 5 years, and I'm very, very careful about loving on him when he's in his bed, and I would never lay my head on his stomach.

 

My bridge girl, Piaget, I could do anything to, but Mirage let me know very early on that he was not comfortable with that. And you know, that's okay.....not all pups want, or are comfortable with that. Mirage is my velcro boy, my shadow, and he gives me his love and affection in a different way, and I've learned to accept that and love him for that. I respect his comfort zone, and give him attention and affection in ways that he can welcome and enjoy.

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We have a "no petting or touching when laying down" rule. Doesn't matter if he's on his bed, the floor, or wherever.

 

We've been through 2 bites here, and both times Rocket was startled from his sleep when he was touched - I was bitten once, and one of his dogsitters who knew better was also bitten - both of us knew better but just assumed he was awake because his eyes were open. He was sleeping. Our fault, not his. If you stick with the rule, you most likely won't get bitten.

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Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and LaVida I've Got Life.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia and Diva Astar Dashindiva 

 

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I have one who is a bit sleep aggressive and when she comes up snarling b/c I touch her, I yell her name to get her out of it. She has gotten better b/c we have been laying together more, and it depends on how deep of a sleep or what type of mood she is in so I basically don't have anyone go to her when lying down like that, unfortunately some of these dogs have had such bad lives you don't know what was done to them and when to make them on edge so make the rule and all should be good. When you want to hug him, call him over to love vs get down on the bed, it will save you some $ from vets and ERs.

Kathy, Bo (SK's Bozo), and Angels Storm (Greys Big Storm), Grace (Rise to Glory) and Sky(Greys Sky Dove),

My dog believes I go to work for their food and treats.

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felix, who i have had since he was 7 weeks old has space/sleep agression. so, that rules out the "bad life theory". he needs to sleep in his crate, it's as simple as that. if another dog moves near his crate it sounds like cujo is ready to attack. he's always been like that.

 

on facebook's greycare, dr. karen dawson(greyhound specialist) from australia was writing about space/sleep agression. when i shared felix's info her comment was leaning towards genetics and aging. check out the fb pages, here is her comment:

 

" From what your saying, yes I agree. existing anxieties are expected to worsen as the dog ages, particularly if she has congnitive decline. Re Felix, you subscribe to the theory that sleep agression is an indicator of anxiety, don't you?"

 

i agree w/ karen, felix has never been the most secure dog in the world(at least w/ other canines, his temperment from the begining). annie, our other grey also is timid/insecure and just can't tolerate any motion what so ever when she's dozing or sleeping. no couch for her! camping w/ her is a hoot- she growls the entire night-i am constantly telling her to knock it off. fortunatley she's not a biter. but when young children visit, annie is crated. felix tolerates anything as long as he is awake.

 

"remember let sleeping dogs lie" no dogs sleeping in our bedroom- unless there is a major electrical storm. then annie is in her corner hunkered down.

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I have one who is a bit sleep aggressive and when she comes up snarling b/c I touch her, I yell her name to get her out of it. She has gotten better b/c we have been laying together more, and it depends on how deep of a sleep or what type of mood she is in so I basically don't have anyone go to her when lying down like that, unfortunately some of these dogs have had such bad lives you don't know what was done to them and when to make them on edge so make the rule and all should be good. When you want to hug him, call him over to love vs get down on the bed, it will save you some $ from vets and ERs.

 

Sorry, but I can't just let this go by.

 

I have no idea who told you this or why you believe it--I think the issue of being in their own private crate at the track and never, ever being "snuck up" on explains space aggression pretty simply, but let me tell you about Bo.

 

Bo was one of our English Setters. We owned his sire and dam, so we know everthing that ever happened to him from the moment of conception on.

 

All of our dogs worshipped my father, who treated them like cherished family members.

 

One night, when Bo was about 5 or 6, he was asleep in one of the chairs he was allowed on. Dad bent over and gave him a kiss, and Bo bit him, right in the neck. My father was so embarassed at his own stupidity for not letting a sleeping dog lie he didn't seek medical treatment even though he had a puncture wound in his neck. He ended up in the hospital a few days later--and he never admitted to the doctor his own dog bit him.

 

PLEASE stop assuming that dogs do things because they were abused or mistreated. We don't know half the time why they do things.

 

For what it's worth, my Greyhound has sleep aggression. He also sleeps with his eyes open from time to time, so even five years into having him in my home, I'm careful.


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I have two in my home right now that have space issues. They have both been with me for years. I have picture of them right after they were born and know how they were treated and these dogs had it good so I can't blame their issues on being mistreated because they weren't. The rule of thumb around here is never mess with a dog who is lying down, especially these two. Even though neither one of them has never gone after the humans in the house, they have snapped at other dogs that got to close to the beds they were lying on. I have some that eventually adjusted and stopped being space aggressive but these two, so far, still have issues. They aren't nearly as bad as they were but they may always have them.

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The answer here is pretty simple in my opinion...he doesn't want to be kissed so don't kiss him. bottom line is he's a dog and as much as we want them to act like humans who enjoy being hugged and kissed, not all dogs do. If you want to avoid incidents like this and feeling emotional about it, let him be comfortable on his bed wihich is probably his safe secure place.

 

At the track their kennel was their place to get fed, sleep, get treats, and loving on. They didn't have to share it with anyone, they were awake before anyone opened up their kennel door.

 

Our Brooke is really shy and I always ask people to leave her alone if they look like they are going after her to pet her. I have no trouble keeping her comfortable so perhaps you could think of it this way when you tell people to leave him alone while he's laying down.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Of course the simple answer is stop touching him when he's in his bed. Let sleeping dogs lie is a good idea. It's not really that hard to tell people not to pet or lean over him in bed.

 

Rex had sleep startle when he first arrived but lost it when he settled in. Buddy doesn't have it at all but almost always sleeps very soundly with his eyes open. Many times it looks like he is just resting and he's actually sound asleep. If I say his name he'll wake up.

 

I had a very big scar on my lip when I was younger from my beagle that I petted when it was asleep on the couch. I was only about 6 but sure learned that lesson quickly.

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The first step is to try to pinpoint what kind of aggression this was. It could've been sleep aggression, but if you're sure he was 100% awake, then it's probably a territory issue. My dogs understand that mom is allowed to do whatever she wants to do, which includes things that are sometimes unpleasant (i.e. taking away a treat or toy, touching or manipulating an area that is sore, approaching the bed while they're lying down, etc). It's definitely something that can be worked through with desensitivization. Considering this is not an isolated incident, I would definitely muzzle him if you want to do training with the bed.

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Guest dollamel

Thanks for all the great advice! We love him, had him for over 3 years and is most definitely a member of the family. We've re-arranged our apartment a little bit put the bed out of "high traffic" areas bc a lot of our friends will go over and pet him which we will now tell them not to anymore. Like people said if you want to pet him call him over. He really is a great dog, and he most definitely could have been sleeping with his eyes open. He knew he did something wrong because he went to the bathroom in our apartment (which he never does) and didn't act himself all day. It was traumatic for me and I'm trying hard to stop seeing the flashbacks of him biting me. We're hopefully putting an offer in on a house soon and at that point want to get another one... I heard having two sometimes help as well.

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Dogs live in the moment so if he wasn't acting himself all day, I suspect he was picking up your negative vibes, rather than feeling remorse or he would be acting his normal self within a few minutes if you were too. In saying that, I completely understand how traumatic it is to get bit by your dog, or even growled at.

 

I hope you recover quickly and move forward, he sounds like a sweet guy who just doesn't understand why mom is upset. I'm sure you realize what you did wrong, but I'm hoping you can move past this and build trust again. He may not be the cuddler you envisioned, but it sounds like you love him a lot just the way he is.

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Guest BrindleBabes

One of my girls isn't much of a cuddler (I've gotten two muzzle punches for trying to pet her while she's in her bed). So I don't pet/rub/touch her when she's in bed unless she reaches out for me. Not sure how she learned that, but I started by just sitting next to her and talking and one day she reached a paw out to me. That seems to be her invitation to be stroked, now she does it frequently, and we haven't had a problem for 5+ years. But I won't touch her unless she gives me the green light, and I never stick my face in hers.

 

ps: I wouldn't trade her for the world!

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It doesn't sound like the petting did it, it was the leaning over to give him a kiss. Most dogs get used to our "strange" body language as puppies so learn to accept it. Because most greys grow up as kennel dogs they don't alwaysunderstand some of the body language people might show in a home. What is affection to us (leaning over and kissing/hugging) is threatening to a dog who doesn't know otherwise. Look for signs he is uncomfortable, they almost always show this right before a strike (like holding his head back/turning it slightly, looking out of the corner of his eye, etc). I personally think, with training, the majority of dogs can get over space aggression. You can work on desensitizing, but if you don't pay attention to warning signs or push things it can make things worse. I actually started giving Teague massages on his bed, until I could easily handle all of the parts of his body and lean over him with him totally relaxed (he loooooves it).

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Guest dollamel

In a way, I'm kinda glad (I dunno how glad one can be) that it happened the way it did. Sure, we have a Halloween party coming up and my friend is visiting from California who wants to go out and I have hideous stiches in my face... Plus am getting martied in 8 months. But I've now learned what I did wrong. This could have happened a week before my wedding, who knows! But I am fairly confidant it would have happened one way or another. I always would lay down in his bed with him and pet him and never had a problem. I always would give him kisses. I think this time because I leaned over him and came down from above startled him. But I realize he's a dog, he needs his space just as we do. He'll come over for pets, like just now he came over to the side of our bed and I pet his neck for awhile. It will take a little time but I'm sure out relationship will be just fine. I've never grown up with a big dog, I had a Bichon... My fiance had German Shepards and Labs so it's all new for me, especially a Greyhound. Just when you think you've done all the research you possibly can on a breed something like this happens. I'll have to post a pic of my handsome guy, his grandma just knitted him a snood too... Again thanks everyone!

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

The first step is to try to pinpoint what kind of aggression this was. It could've been sleep aggression, but if you're sure he was 100% awake, then it's probably a territory issue. My dogs understand that mom is allowed to do whatever she wants to do, which includes things that are sometimes unpleasant (i.e. taking away a treat or toy, touching or manipulating an area that is sore, approaching the bed while they're lying down, etc). It's definitely something that can be worked through with desensitivization. Considering this is not an isolated incident, I would definitely muzzle him if you want to do training with the bed.

 

I dont agree about the "territory" issue. Greyhounds dont understand the concept of a territory to guard, hence the reason they are terrible guard dogs. This can be attributed to their upbringing as a pack animal and moved around frequently while racing.

 

I have had many fosters over the years and some with varying degrees of sleep startle and space issues. What I have found to "usually" be the issue is trust. If you dont have a strong bond with your hound and a healthy appropriate relationship, there may be trust issues. What I always do with new fosters is when they are laying down in the evenging, I sit away from the pointy end (teeth) and pet their butt while they are laying down. Just slow and steady petting. If they fall asleep, I call their name, or make a noise to wake them up, I do not move towards their head. I will do this for a few weeks at least. Once I see that they are getting used to this, I will start petting a bit higher up their backside towards their chest, but only using my had to move, not my body. If they dont seem to react, I will make sure they are awake, then slide my body gently closer to the front of their body. All the while keeping a good eye on their body language. Look for the "whale eye" - looking at you out of the corner of their eye sidways where you can see the white of their eye, tensing up of the muscles, licking of the lips, yawning. These are indicators of anxiety. If you see any of these things, back off. They are trying to tell you they are uncomfortable. Let me be sure to let you know that when I start this, I always muzzle the hound. Usually after about 2-4 weeks I am able to move up and down their body without them even moving. Be sure to remember that when they fall asleep, you need to wake them up so that they are not asleep when you are closer to their head. You should start to see improvment over the course of a month.

 

In addition to this, I also strongly recommend obedience class. Obedience helps to create a strong bond with owner/pet as well as teaching the pet confidence in your leadership role. Greyhounds can excell at obedience, so dont let anyone tell you they cant. I would search for a class that only has greyhounds as clients, but it is tough to find in some places.

 

Be sure to have a training session each day for a few minutes. There is no need for hours each day, but 5 minutes will do. You will be very suprised what they can do, and how much they enjoy learning.

 

Chad

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In a way, I'm kinda glad (I dunno how glad one can be) that it happened the way it did. Sure, we have a Halloween party coming up and my friend is visiting from California who wants to go out and I have hideous stiches in my face... Plus am getting martied in 8 months. But I've now learned what I did wrong. This could have happened a week before my wedding, who knows! But I am fairly confidant it would have happened one way or another. I always would lay down in his bed with him and pet him and never had a problem. I always would give him kisses. I think this time because I leaned over him and came down from above startled him. But I realize he's a dog, he needs his space just as we do. He'll come over for pets, like just now he came over to the side of our bed and I pet his neck for awhile. It will take a little time but I'm sure out relationship will be just fine. I've never grown up with a big dog, I had a Bichon... My fiance had German Shepards and Labs so it's all new for me, especially a Greyhound. Just when you think you've done all the research you possibly can on a breed something like this happens. I'll have to post a pic of my handsome guy, his grandma just knitted him a snood too... Again thanks everyone!

I'm thinking the stitches in your face would be part of a greyt Hallowe'en costume...just saying :)

Jan with precious pups Emmy (Stormin J Flag) and Simon (Nitro Si). Missing my angels: Bailey Buffetbobleclair 11/11/98-17/12/09; Ben Task Rapid Wave 5/5/02-2/11/15; Brooke Glo's Destroyer 7/09/06-21/06/16 and Katie Crazykatiebug 12/11/06 -21/08/21. My blog about grief The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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The first step is to try to pinpoint what kind of aggression this was. It could've been sleep aggression, but if you're sure he was 100% awake, then it's probably a territory issue. My dogs understand that mom is allowed to do whatever she wants to do, which includes things that are sometimes unpleasant (i.e. taking away a treat or toy, touching or manipulating an area that is sore, approaching the bed while they're lying down, etc). It's definitely something that can be worked through with desensitivization. Considering this is not an isolated incident, I would definitely muzzle him if you want to do training with the bed.

 

I dont agree about the "territory" issue. Greyhounds dont understand the concept of a territory to guard, hence the reason they are terrible guard dogs. This can be attributed to their upbringing as a pack animal and moved around frequently while racing.

 

"Territorial" doesn't necessarily equate with "guarding." I mean "territorial" in the sense that the dog is the one trying to exhibit control of their space and surroundings. The issue arises when the dog feels that they are either losing or giving up control (which, you are right, 9 times out of 10 is fear-based). However, in the OP's case, I don't think a dog who has been in a home for three years would/should be fearful. It seems like this dog is trying to assert his dominance over his belongings and his space. I'm trying to point out that the answer is not as simple as "don't touch the dog on his bed." Ideally, you want your dog to be able to share their space without feeling threatened and resorting to aggression.

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Personally, I don't believe that dogs should be expected to allow humans to do whatever they want to them. A dog should be allowed to express their feelings and desires, to let us know when they are not comfortable with something we're doing and be respected for that. Sure, we sometimes need to do things that are unpleasant and that the dog dislikes, and we need to work with them so that they will allow us to do these things. But this can be achieved by methods that establish trust, and has nothing to do with dominance or control.

 

For the OP, and anyone who wants to understand and learn to read their dog better, it's a good idea to become familiar with calming signals. Here's a good article that outlines some of the basic points. Recognizing these subtle signals can often help you avoid situations where you trigger a bite because most dogs give lots of signals of their discomfort before finally snapping or biting.

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Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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Larry has aggression issues when on his bed or laying down for the most part. We had the same reaction to petting him on his bed right after we got him. We just never, EVER pet him when he's on his bed. Period. Even if he's sphinxing on the floor, we don't sit down next to him and give him luvins until he flops over on his side -- that's HIS invitation that it's ok to pet him now. Whenever someone comes over we always make sure they know NEVER pet him unless he's standing up.

 

BTW our first grey, Rainey, bit my earlobe completely off in 2009 (had her for 4 years by then) -- she was on the bed and I thought she was awake, bent over to kiss her (like I did a million times before) and wham! no more earlobe. So you just never know.

 

hope your face heals up ok!

Kim and Bruce - with Rick (Rick Roufus 6/30/16) and missing my sweet greyhound Angels Rainey (LG's Rainey 10/4/2000 - 3/8/2011), Anubis (RJ's Saint Nick 12/25/2001 - 9/12/12) and Zeke (Hey Who Whiz It 4/6/2009 - 7/20/2020) and Larry (PTL Laroach 2/24/2007 - 8/2/2020) -- and Chester (Lab) (8/31/1990 - 5/3/2005), Captain (Schipperke) (10/12/1992 - 6/13/2005) and Remy (GSP) (?/?/1998 - 1/6/2005) at the bridge
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Guest jenniferk

The first step is to try to pinpoint what kind of aggression this was. It could've been sleep aggression, but if you're sure he was 100% awake, then it's probably a territory issue. My dogs understand that mom is allowed to do whatever she wants to do, which includes things that are sometimes unpleasant (i.e. taking away a treat or toy, touching or manipulating an area that is sore, approaching the bed while they're lying down, etc). It's definitely something that can be worked through with desensitivization. Considering this is not an isolated incident, I would definitely muzzle him if you want to do training with the bed.

 

We had in-home consults with a positive reinforcement trainer, and space aggression was one of the things we covered. She recommended this type of desensitization training. My boy has sleep aggression, but he was awake when my husband reached down to pet him while the dog was lying down, and the dog snapped at him. My trainer had us do Behavior Modification Tier 2: Protocol for Desensitizing Dominantly Aggressive Dogs from the book Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals. In this training, one person has the dog down-stay & give treats while the other person does gestures & actions that may inadvertently cause the dog to be aggressive. It starts with the person gesturing from very far away then get closer over a very gradual period and emphasizes the owners keeping close watch on the dog's reaction. Our trainer suggested doing this while the dog was muzzled. This is from the protocol: "the ultimate hope is that people will be able to rush up and hug the dog. Not all dogs will achieve this level of behavioral change. Caution is urged, and some dogs may never be able to be hugged and surrounded by strangers. One of the benefits of these programs is that you will become aware of gestures that signal the dog's limits and can decide whether you wish to attempt to modify these."

 

I can't report on the results of this because we never finished the training. We'd also been doing massaging--sitting down with him while he's lying down and massaging him (away from the face at first like another commenter suggested.) that seemed to work wonders even though the issue is the reaching down piece of it. Now, he LOVES to be petted while he's lying down and is fine with us reaching down to do it. We just make sure he's awake first. Plus, there are times when we never do it (when I know he's really tired or late at night or when he's in his crate) no matter how cute he looks. However, given all the stories from folks whose dogs have reacted this way after years (we've only had him 5 months), I definitely plan to continue this training to be safe.

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